She was Mariana Ruiz’ first-born: Alana. The baby girl came into the world on Oct. 28, 2017, but only survived mere hours.
“It was the happiest and saddest day of my life,” Ruiz said.
“We got to say goodbye and tell her how much we loved her and how much we really wanted her.”
The family had a memorial for their daughter and had her cremated; the ashes placed in a tiny urn.
After the service, Ruiz returned the remains to the funeral home for safe keeping.
“It was so hard and so painful for me to have the ashes home.
“I know it wasn’t my best decision but I just couldn’t… It’s why I trusted the funeral home to keep them safe,” Ruiz said.
But several months later Elegant Tributes closed down.
Instead of returning those remains back to the family, Ruiz said the operations manager of the funeral home scattered them in Edworthy park.
“We ask: ‘Why? Why didn’t he contact us?’ He said nothing. He just said he did it by the bridge and left the urn and teddy bear along there,” Ruiz recalled.
The grieving mother came searching along the shores, but found no signs of anything.
“He stole a piece of my heart when he took my love,” Ruiz said.
“He made me feel like I lost her one more time.”
The case is now before the courts.
The operations manager, Michael Dost, told Global News Elegant Tributes closed in May 2018 due to increased competition and a declining economy. Dost admitted to spreading the ashes in the park, sincerely believing he was following their wishes.
“We empathize with the family and understand that their grief is ongoing after the death of their child,” Dost said.
“Since the situation came to light, we have been trying to resolve the issue in good will. It is unfortunate that the family is seeking to heal their pain through the courts.”
The Alberta Funeral Services Regulatory Board said there is no current legislation that legally obligates a closed funeral business to pass on the remains to another operator, nor is there an obligation to notify families.
Ruiz said she is convinced there is an ethical duty that was ignored, denying her the chance and the choice to honour her baby the way she wanted.
“I don’t want anybody else to go through this.”